We have our stove up and running again! With the addition of a second radiator, we are really enjoying the coziness of the yurt. Mike finished sewing the walls this weekend, so our yurt is back to normal (almost). My brother-in-law plumbed our shower while he was visiting (he’s a plumber and graciously worked on our bathroom despite being totally confused as to why we would want to live in a yurt). I’ll write about the changes soon. For now, here is our to-do list.
Pimp my Yurt 2014 (wish list):
sew a new outer layer of canvas
add a few more windows
windows from yurta.ca – I’ll have pictures of ours soon
refurbish the Rayburn (wood stove) with new fire bricks
a blue version of our stove
add a second radiator
- build a closet –> two rails (one for us, one low one for Alma) and a few shelves (for sweaters, towels, etc.)
a branch for a rail – we will use an old yurt pole
low rail and shelves for the wee one
- build another counter for the kitchen
- build ‘pantry shelves’ in the kitchen
- fancy up the bathroom and make it more toddler friendly (lower sink/step-stool, etc.)
- make a preschool area (easel, chalkboard, activities, etc.) —> aside from the extra windows, this is what I’m most excited forschool area
We are knee-deep in yurt renovations this week and are using the time to “camp” in our front yard in our heated trailer (so not really camping at all).
All of our things are packed into containers or boxes; it is easy to see that we still have too much stuff. Hopefully more downsizing will happen as we unpack. Hopefully.
Mike has been on the roof quite a bit lately:
Trying to figure out the angles
Working on the roof
Here is our to do list for the yurt:
re-insulate and re-brick the inside of the Rayburn
- add another radiator to the system and hook everything up
- sew a new roof
- sew new walls
- attach a giant zipper to the roof and walls
- winterize the yurt with carpets and rugs
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
Our yurt has roughly 450 square feet of space; we have enough stuff to fill roughly 2000 square feet of space. So, nearly every Monday I pull everything into the living room and sort through the things we use, the things we don’t, and the things that someone else could use. Ever so slowly, we are getting rid of our stuff in an attempt to live more minimally. Alongside all the sorting, I tend to get motivated about changing the furniture around. The result of sorting + furniture changes = a massive mess. Although the house looks like the aftermath of a natural disaster for a few hours, by supper it is usually back to normal. In adherence to Murphy’s Law, people always seem to pop by on Monday afternoons when the yurt looks like the pictures below; unfortunately, we rarely have guests visit early on Tuesday mornings.
The “Before” Pictures:
replacing the wall unit with a bookcase
A typical Monday: spring organizing
The After Pictures:
breakfast on mother’s day
the living room
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to live off-grid for one week each season (read about winter here).
We enjoyed being off-grid quite a bit (we did it for 6 weeks), but decided that we do like some aspects to electricity (of course): namely, the fridge. Until we find a better option, we will continue to plug in the fridge; we will also use the vacuum-cleaner. It isn’t difficult to live without it, but it certainly makes cleaning a much quicker process. We brought in a small radio but have yet to bring in any electrical lighting. We have two solar-powered lamps for reading and knitting, and a few oil lamps for ambient lighting.
Evenings: Our evenings were spent working on projects for the most part (Mike improved little things in the yurt that made a big difference to our day-to-day tasks; I worked on a sweater for Alma, along with a quilt for her bed).
Days: Aside from the lack of music, not much was different from regular days.
What We Liked: Again, the quiet was nice. I enjoyed not listening to the news every hour and was happy to keep my head in the sand for a few weeks.
What We Missed: The fridge and the freezer. Once the weather warmed up, it became a real challenge to keep food from spoiling.
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to build a bed for Alma. We have been very blessed by what has been passed down from older generations. Mike’s father built him a bed when he was a toddler, and now, many years later Mike has turned it into a bed for our daughter. The bed went through a few kids in between Mike and Alma, and has changed form a few times, as well. Now, it lives above the foot of our bed.
Afternoon story time
The finished bed, complete with Peter Rabbit bookshelf
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to live off-grid for one week each season.
It is quite easy to be off-grid in the winter, we found out. The warmth of the stove along with the soft glow of oil lamps made for calm, quiet evenings spent with tea and good books. We didn’t miss the fridge as it was cold enough on our porch to keep our food fresh (and cold enough outside to keep things frozen).
Evenings: After Alma fell asleep in the evenings, we read books, worked on projects (knitting, sewing, house), or just hung out. Evenings were much quieter than usual without the temptation to watch a movie. We went to bed a couple hours earlier than usual.
Days: Not much changed. We sang a lot while working and playing since there was no background music with which to hum along.
What We Liked: I loved knowing that my options for entertainment were limited; it was easier to focus on books or projects when there were only a few choices.
What We Missed: I missed the vacuum-cleaner the most. Sweeping the carpet just doesn’t give you the same satisfaction as vacuuming. I also missed listening to Tonic (jazz) in the evenings.
Journal from March 5, 2014
As Alma and I attempted to clean the house and prepare for a Mardi Gras pancake supper, Mike went out to feed the cows and put them in the barn for the night. He noticed our two bulls standing together in a strange place and investigated. Surrounded by snow lay a newborn calf who blended in so well with the surroundings that Mike would have missed her were it not for her spectators. He picked up the tiny cow and brought her into the barn to warm up.
After about an hour of trying to warm her in the barn, he carried her into the yurt and lay her down near the stove. Mike, his mom (a retired vet), and I spent the night cuddling the calf and trying to feed her via bottle (rubber nipple attached to an old soy sauce bottle).
Even the dog was worried about the little calf
Thankfully, our friend Kris was able to give us fresh milk from his farm for the newest member of ours, as the calf’s mother seems unable to nurse (she’s had problems with mastitis in the past). The calf began to warm up from the heat of the stove (and possibly from the many hands patting her), but her body temperature was (and still is) way below normal.
We called a vet who came and intubated her so that we could get some colostrum into her system. He fears that she has an intestinal obstruction that will prevent her from passing anything. We are praying for a miracle. I have high hopes for the sweet little cow resting peacefully on my kitchen floor. She is making cute noises in her sleep.
We have decided to name her Queen Maria. Queen – because her mother’s unfortunate name is Princess; Maria – because I am currently reading The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp and am in love with it.
Alma wasn’t too sure about Maria at first
Update: Unfortunately, the calf ended up passing away in her sleep that night. We assume the vet was correct in thinking that she had an abdominal obstruction of some sort. On a brighter note, two healthy calves were born this past month (one of them today!).
Winter seemingly flew by this year despite having lasted a solid 6 months. Always armed with an extra pair of leggings and a wool sweater, I felt confident staring down the cold winter days. The weather outside was pretty frightful sometimes, but the fire inside was indeed delightful.
February brought a lot of pancake breakfasts, for no apparent reason, which made the month more exciting. Alma discovered that she enjoys stirring pancake batter.
I spent most winter evenings reading or working on a knitting or sewing project. I read a few great books, as well as a few not-so-great ones. On the craft front, I didn’t accomplish anything remarkable, but I enjoyed my time.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
I spent a good deal of time researching and planning our vegetable garden. We ordered our seeds early and were raring to go at the beginning of March; however, due to the three feet of snow and the -20 nights, the season has been pushed back a few weeks so we didn’t plant until near the end of March. We have a quite a few little plants in the yurt now and our home has become a glorified greenhouse.
Last day of March
January was a strange month weather-wise. It was really cold for a few days in the yurt, so we bundled up and looked fashionable:
So many layers of wool.
Then, it suddenly got warm and every surface became a skating rink:
Safely navigating our way across the driveway in a box.
The husband shaved his beard and we got fancy for an evening:
The Bearded Wonder is now a teenage version of himself.
I did a decent amount of knitting and finally finished Alma’s doll:
She finally has a face!
Alma really loved her for about three minutes.
Mike went away for a weekend so Alma and I took over the farm duties for a couple days. On our first morning we noticed a broken heat lamp, a broken post in the barn (the cows always get feisty when Mike is away), and the best part: a dead rooster. All was fine in the end and we enjoyed hanging out with the animals. We must have been feeling motivated because we finished the chores, ate breakfast, and even washed the dishes by 9am. After a nap, we de-cluttered and got rid of some stuff. Because, this:
I won’t post pictures showing the rest of the yurt that day… imagine this x 40.
With Mike away, I told Alma she had to pull her weight; so, she started doing household chores at the tender age of one:
Vacuuming with a yurt-pole.
She only likes the highest quality of toys.
We took a few naps:
I might have worn that sweater every day of the month.
So, that was January!
Winter in the yurt has been quite cosy in comparison to last year. We have a “sunroom” which blocks out [most] the wind, carpets that keep our feet warm, and a newly-sewn breeze rejector (sounds like a superhero, does it not?) that keeps the wind from gushing in under the the canvas/felt.
Last winter can be summed up by this image of a very bundled new mother nursing her tiny infant near the stove.
The drying diapers were daily art pieces in the yurt last winter.
This winter, so far, is quite the opposite. Although I continue to be quite well-bundled I am much warmer now that I am not restricted to life in a chair. Alma runs around most of the day, so she is always warm, and if I fulfill the day’s quota of cooking, cleaning, and playing, I also stay quite toasty.
Yurt in the Summer
Yurt in the Winter
Yurt in the Summer
Yurt in the Winter
Our weather has been strange and yet completely normal for a Canadian winter. We have had snow, ice pellets, freezing rain, rain, sun; snow that feels like mashed potatoes, snow that sounds like styrofoam, and fluffy snow that hides the menacing layer of ice hiding just beneath it.
The yurt has been as warm as any “normal” house most days this winter (even when it is -25 outside); however, we have had a few chilly mornings that warranted enough extra layers of wool that we looked as if we were about to climb a mountain.